June 01st, 2016

Researching the Research

The Canadian Employee Relocation Council and EuRA collaborate on a sweeping global mobility study that vets dozens of published reports on the topic.  Here CERC CEO and President Steve Cryne, draws out some of the highlights.

The nature of global mobility is changing. For years, our industry has observed a steady and significant shift in the way people work, live and communicate. It's a shift that has ramped up demand for skilled and specialised workers and created new complexities for mobility professionals.

These changes have been on our radar for years. They have also been the subject of countless research studies. Last fall, CERC teamed up with the European Relocation Association (EuRA) to take that research one step further. Together, we launched a study to discover top trends and consensus points in a vetted list of 57 global employee mobility reports published between 2011 and 2016. 

The new study reflects the opinions and experiences of over 25,000 mobility stakeholders across 140 countries. It represents one of the largest global employee mobility studies of its kind, and is an important part of CERC’s growing partnership with EuRA.

I had the pleasure of presenting highlights from our joint report during the EuRA International Relocation Congress in Malta this past April. I shared some interesting findings, beginning with the top five factors that many believe are driving change across the globe and impacting our $60-billion mobility industry. They include: Globalisation 2.0, which is creating a shift in power of economic might from west to east; demographic change, such as retiring workforces and the rise of Millennials; individualism, creating more power of choice for employees and a more knowledgeable workforce; a movement toward knowledge-based economies; and technology and the digital age.

Together, these factors are increasing demand for skilled and specialised talent across the globe. In response, more employers are expanding their mobility programs to manage complex talent gaps, increase their global reach, attract and retain employees, and develop tomorrow's leaders.

Fortunately, there are plenty of skilled workers willing to meet the demand for global talent. Our joint-survey found that most Millennials are eager to complete a mobility experience in the first six years of their career. Interestingly, 71 per cent of female Millennials want to work abroad, but they only represent 20 per cent of the current international mobility population.

The goal of our joint survey with EuRA was not only to gather consensus on issues that are a matter of concern for global mobility professionals; it was also about understanding what stakeholders view as top mobility trends. Among the dozens of surveys analysed, we observed five key trends.

First, industry watchers predict employee mobility will continue to rise, but the length and types of assignments will vary. Cost-conscious employers will favour shorter-term assignments and "local plus" programs while exploring technological alternatives, like assigning staff to "virtual teams." At the same time, incentive pack­ages will likely become even more flexible and will be based on the specific needs of the employee, their circumstances and the relocation budget.

Second, mobility professionals and consult­ancies  are all advocating for  mobility  to play a more strategic role in their organ­isations. They want them to become embedded in a diverse range of organisa­tional  activities  and  to play  a broader  role in  human  resources.

The third observable trend is that cost concerns will put more pressure on relocation managers to prove the return on investment of their assignments.  This will lead to better return on investment tracking tools and greater understanding of the value of global mobility to a company.  According to Brookfield GRS Mindful Mobility report, 95% of companies do not currently measure international assignment return on investment and were not even sure how to start.  In ManpowerGroup’s report Moving People with Purpose however, three out of four respondents said they expect to be measuring return on investment in two years time, compared to the 9% who do so now.

Our research also points to greater collab­oration between employers and their respective governments, our fifth identifi­able trend, as business puts more pressure  on government at all levels to reduce  barriers  to  employee  mobility.  According to the Global CEO Survey, 44 per cent of CEOs plan to work  with their  govern­ments to develop a skilled and adaptable workforce over the next three years, and 27 per  cent  intend  to  work  with  government in creating a more competitive and efficient tax  system. For  those partnerships  to work,

most agree that industries must build a more impactful business case for global employee mobility and improve communi­cations with their government partners.

If there is one key take-away from our research, it's that global employee mobility is something both employers and employees are keen to embrace.

As I told the audience in Malta, my hope is that this survey will encourage more  thinking about  the importance of

mobility to economic prosperity and busi­ness success, as well as its critical role in building meaningful and rewarding careers for employees. 

Stephen Cryne is the president of the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC) .  For more information on the CERC / EuRA research study, please  visit www.cerc.ca.

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